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Hypersensitivity reaction to chemotherapy

Related Terms

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Background

  • Chemotherapy is often used to treat various types of cancer. These drugs, also called anti-cancer drugs, destroy cancer cells by preventing them from growing and multiplying. However, healthy cells are also harmed during the process, which is responsible for the side effects of treatment. Once chemotherapy is discontinued, healthy cells usually repair themselves and side effects gradually subside.
  • Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, hair loss, anemia, confusion, depression, problems with blood clotting, stomatitis (sores in the mouth), mucosititis (sores in the throat), dry mouth, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, peripheral neuropathy (burning, weakness, tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet), acne, dry skin, rash, yellow and brittle nails, flu-like symptoms, fluid retention, decreased sperm motility and reduced sexual hormone production in women. Some chemotherapy drugs may also damage the kidneys and/or bladder. Chemotherapy also destroys healthy immune cells. Therefore, patients undergoing chemotherapy are immunocompromised and susceptible to infections.
  • Sometimes chemotherapy is the only treatment that a patient receives. However, chemotherapy is usually used in addition to other treatments, such as surgery or radiation therapy (treatment that uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells).
  • Chemotherapy is usually administered to help shrink a tumor before surgery or radiation therapy (neo-adjuvant therapy), to help destroy cancer cells that remain after surgery or radiation therapy (adjuvant chemotherapy) or to help destroy cancer if it recurs or has spread to other parts of the body.
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Types of Allergic Reactions

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Symptoms of Allergic Reaction

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.